Last weekend both teams played in two matches that were the polar opposite of each other. Salford got a record score beating Wakefield while Warrington beat Hull in a try less game four nil.
Salford coach Paul Rowley had to make a couple of changes but the vast majority stayed the same. Rhys Williams came in for Joe Burgess and Elijah Taylor dropped out through suspension with Matty Costello filling in on the bench.
It was a fine dry day as the two sides took to the field. The Salford supporters had travelled in big numbers to add to the terrific atmosphere in the ground.
The Red Devils were on the front foot in the early stages moving the ball wide and stretching Warrington at every opportunity. When they turned the ball over they did it close to the Wolves line and this seemed a perfect tactical decision.
Salford got the first points with a try from Williams. The ball went high in the air from Marc Sneyd catching everybody cold. Williams took it cleanly on the run to catch the Wolves napping.
The visitors continued their dominance and a lovely pass from Ryan Brierley sent Deon Cross over to double the lead. Sneyd missed both conversions but Salford were firmly in control 0-8.
The Red Devils started to concede penalties at quite an alarming rate and this gave Warrington the leg up they needed. Daryl Clarke skipped through a few tackle attempts to race over for a try and Stefan Ratchford converted to put the Wolves right back in the match. Salford’s Kallum Watkins was sent to the sin bin just before half time before Sitaleki Akauola pulled off a try saving tackle to preserve his sides slender lead.
With Salford down to twelve men at the start of the second half Warrington took full advantage. Andy Ackers missed a tackle straight from the kick off and the Wolves went charging down the pitch. Ratchford got the try and soon after Gareth Widdop carved Salford up to turn the game on its head with a try that gave Warrington a ten point lead! All this damage had been done while Watkins was in the sin bin.
A break down the left edge brought Warrington’s next try. Josh Thewlis looked to be in touch but referee Robert Hicks awarded the try and with Ratchford adding the conversion Salford looked dead and buried.
All the hard work and dominance Salford had in the first half seemed a distant memory as the match started to drift away.
Kallum Watkins got a neat off load to substitute Chris Atkin who raced in to reduce the deficit and you sensed that Salford weren’t quite finished.
The next try came from a player who’s not really renowned for try scoring but this was a very important one. Sneyd got the pass to big Jack Ormondroyd who showed a beautiful step to charge over and the crowd behind the posts started to believe again. Sneyd converted both tries to bring Salford back to within four points at 24-20.
The Red Devils continued to play and up the intensity and Warrington began to look edgy as if they were hanging on. Tyler Dupree was having a wonderful second half attracting defenders as he refused to die with the ball. He also likes to get the ball out and when he found Ormondroyd close to the line he made no mistake as he charged over for his second try. The roar behind the posts nearly took the roof off the stand. The intense atmosphere was what this wonderful sport is about. Sneyd put Salford back in front with the conversion but this game was on a knife edge now.
The Red Devils continued to play their exciting brand of rugby moving the ball and they went to finish the Wolves with the knock out punch. It was nice play from Alex Gerrard who got a pass away and the break was on. After what had been a gruelling match Salford’s energy was still at a very high level. The support play was outstanding and it was Brierley who took the pass to race under the posts to win the match!
With twenty four minutes remaining Warrington looked home and hosed 24-8 in front but all credit to Paul Rowley’s Red Devils. They seem to have something no amount of money can buy and that is team spirit, togetherness and a willingness to just keep going.
This match was a terrific advert for the sport of Rugby League, end to end action and a really thrilling finish.
Salford travel to Newcastle next Sunday to face Huddersfield Giants at the Magic Weekend.
Warrington 24 Salford 32.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos